Skills for Impact - Documentary Filmmaking

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
Course Description: 

Skills for Impact Program, Elective module

An introductory documentary production course designed to fit the interests and needs of MPA students. 

With the proliferation of platforms for moving images in both public and private spaces, the ability to communicate through moving images is a basic skill that is becoming ever more important in all fields, and moreover, an increasingly important basic form of literacy in contemporary society.

The course provides students a grounding in the craft of video production, and the creation of moving images, instructing them in basic skills that they can apply to coursework and research, and beyond, in their careers.  These skills cover the primary phases of the video production process, including pre-production, cinematography, sound and editing.  Class sessions will combine lecture on relevant concepts, viewing and analysis of film examples, technical instruction on equipment, hands-on exercises, and critique of class projects at each stage of completion.  

Selected reading: 

Anderson, Kelly & Lucas, Martin. Documentary Voice & Vision

Learning Outcomes: 

Through learning to create moving images, in concert with formal analysis of examples, students gain valuable, versatile skills, and gain literacy in this increasingly important mode of communication.

Upon course completion, students will be able to:

  • Identify and articulate a variety of categories and genres of documentary work
  • Apply a deliberate structure and style to a short video project.
  • Work with basic technical proficiency in a range of areas of media production: operate a video camera and tripod, an audio recorder and microphone, and the Adobe Premiere editing system, controlling all technical functions, to produce a short video project.
  • Apply aesthetic concepts of cinematography, editing, and sound design to support a deliberate concept and vision.
  • Offer constructive critique of a documentary project, both as a work-in-progress, and a final version.
  • Effectively collaborate in a small group to create a documentary film.
  • Refine a short documentary through a series of progressively more refined versions, to a finished work.

Class projects include a final, 4-6 minute documentary film project, which students may conform to their specific academic or professional interests, and a shorter, video-based exercise exploring and developing production skills. Students will also be evaluated on their participation in class discussion, project critiques, and in-class exercises, and will complete a short exam covering the concepts introduced in the course. 


There are no prerequisites for this course, but a knowledge of the Apple OS operating system is strongly recommended.  

Please be aware that this short course is highly intensive and requires full participation from all students.